How Much Does It Cost to Tow a Car?

Article Summary:

Towing costs can range from $2.50 to $7.00 per mile. The average cost to tow a car is $109. However, these costs may be more expensive depending on when you call for a tow truck and the position of your vehicle.

Getting a car towed is typically associated with bad luck, but it’s usually due to safety concerns more than anything. While calling a tow truck company may seem like an inconvenience for both your time and money, there are ways to save money on the ordeal using your credit cards, car insurance, and roadside assistance companies.

Keep reading to learn more about what a tow costs, why prices may vary, and how to save the most money when you need a tow.

Why would you need to be towed?

Tow trucks serve a variety of purposes. The most common reasons for needing a tow truck are running out of gas, missing car payments, a vehicle overheating, and a dead battery. However, there are also other situations that warrant a tow truck driver’s assistance, such as an accident that makes a car undrivable or a car that won’t start, but a dead battery is not the issue.

The best way to think about why a car may need to be towed is to ask whether it’s safe for both the driver and other drivers to use the car.

On average, how much does it cost to tow a car?

The national average cost of a tow, according to J.D. Power, is around $109. Rates do vary but expect to pay between $2.50 and $7.00 per mile. You may incur additional fees if your car isn’t on a flat surface, the transport distance is further, or the driver has difficulty hooking up your vehicle to the tow truck. Tows occurring a night, during a holiday (Christmas), and on the weekend will also increase the cost.

  • Flat fee (base for the service call)
  • Cost per mile fee
  • Hook-up fee ($35 to $100)
  • Hook-up per mile fee ($2.50 – $5)
  • Additional fees (surface, vehicle size, time of day)

If the car is part of an accident, the fee will be even higher. The use of a winch to get a car unstuck will add on an average of $50 to $250. If the tow truck driver’s phone number is on your “Favorites” list, it may be time to consider buying a new car.

Pro Tip

It’s best to pick a local mechanic. The further you drive, the more expensive your trip will be.

What happens if you call roadside assistance and your car works?

Sometimes your car just needs a few minutes to reset and a quick zap to bring it back to life. Since it can’t speak to you, the safe thing to do is call a tow truck company. If the tow driver can get your car running without towing it, the bill could still be over $100 — the flat fee associated with the service call — even without taking it to a repair shop.

Can you pull a car with another car?

Yes. While it’s not recommended for all vehicles, you can pull a car with another car using a chain, a dolly, a tow bar, or a trailer. If doing so, it’s recommended the tow vehicle is larger and there’s no one in the vehicle being towed.

Is it illegal to tow a car with a rope?

In some states, it’s illegal to have a vehicle towed with a rope due to the potential safety hazard it can cause for other drivers on the road. To be sure you’re in compliance with your state’s regulations, check before you attempt to tow your car with a rope. When in doubt, just call one of the many towing companies available.

Will your insurance company cover it?

The answer to whether your auto insurance covers towing comes down to what you selected as part of your coverage. For most insurance companies, towing is covered as part of your collision and comprehensive insurance.

After a car accident, your tow will likely be covered. However, sometimes your insurance agent may need to file a claim for you to have a towing service sent out to you. Either way, keep your receipt and file a claim with your car insurance after.

For other companies, you can purchase roadside assistance or towing coverage as an add-on. Depending on your policy and whether you have a deductible — that you’ve reached — you may have to pay something out of pocket.

Do you need insurance to tow a car?

Just like it’s not required to have car insurance to drive a vehicle — although strongly encouraged — the same goes for towing a car. Most insurance policies don’t cover towing fees and are instead offered as add-ons for member holders to purchase.

If you’re looking to add towing costs to your current car insurance policy, or maybe look for a new plan altogether, take a look at the plans below.

Do your credit cards offer roadside assistance?

This depends on what company your credit cards are through. Take a moment and do a quick search of the benefits of your credit cards. While not all credit cards offer roadside assistance benefits, most will offer some version of complementary or low-cost assistance as an additional benefit to members.

For example, most Visa cards come with Visa Roadside Dispatch, which charges a comparatively low-cost base rate ($69.95 in 2022) for the service call, a standard tow, and free towing up to five miles. After the five-mile limit, cardholders are responsible for the extra cost associated with the towing operation. Technicians can also perform flat tire changes, fuel delivery, lockout help, and jump-starts.

Another option is to go with credit cards that offer roadside assistance coverage. Some cards, such as Chase Sapphire Reserve, offer all kinds of additional services, such as lockout assistance, flat tire help, battery service, and fuel delivery. The coverage applies to any vehicle the cardholder is driving in the United States or Canada. You are allowed four calls per year with a starting fee of $50.

If you like the sound of a credit card with such emergency support, take a look at the options below.

Can an auto club or roadside assistance program help?

There’s a reason roadside assistance programs and auto clubs such as AAA, AARP, and Good Sam have been in business for decades: They save people money.

While the cost of roadside assistance membership varies by program, geographic location, and level of membership, they cost an average of $38 to $120. The membership level will also impact the towing mileage covered, ranging from 3 to 200 miles.

For most, the cost of membership is cheaper than towing a car. You can sign up for a membership or auto club online or over the phone. Benefits will start immediately. One suggestion for non-urgent tows is to sign up for AAA or another roadside assistance program and then call a tow truck.

How do you pick the best option for roadside assistance?

After understanding what options are available to you through your car insurance company, credit cards, and roadside assistance memberships, it’s time to look at your local and state government to determine if there is a maximum amount a towing company can charge.

If you’re in your local area, start by asking someone you trust which tow truck companies they prefer. You can also check with your car insurance provider to see which towing company they partner with. It’s not a requirement to use their suggestion, but merely an option to consider.

If you’re not in your local area or no one recommends anywhere, do a search online for tow truck companies in the area. Start by asking about their prices. Be sure to double-check on the mile rate and any additional fees you may incur depending on your specific situation. Also, ask about what their tow truck drivers offer and the equipment — there should be no rust and grime — the tow truck company has. This is especially important if you have a truck or a motorcycle that is being towed.

Pro Tip

Be sure to note if your vehicle is under an extended warranty. You may need to go to a specific mechanic to have your vehicle worked on.

How do you tow a car by yourself?

With the right vehicle, you may not need to rely on the services car towing companies offer. The first step to towing a car by yourself is buying or borrowing a tow strap. Since this is the main connector between your vehicle and the towing vehicle, make sure the strap fits your vehicle’s weight.

Next, attach the strap to the vehicle towing. After it’s secured, attach the strap to the vehicle being towed. Make sure the strap is straight, not tangled. Then, slowly proceed forward.

How do you properly tow a car?

You can properly tow a car using a tow strap, a dolly, or a flatbed trailer. The method selected depends on what you have access to at the time. It also depends on what’s the safest method to transport the vehicle needing to be towed.

Key Takeaways

  • Most auto policies do not cover towing fees, so it’s best to check your policy and review any potential add-ons before relying on your insurance company to cover the costs.
  • The average cost of a tow is around $109. Depending on when you call for the tow and the position of your vehicle, this cost may be more.
  • You don’t need to have a tow company tow your car, but it’s usually a good idea. If you do decide to tow your own car, make sure your method is legal in your state before hitting the road.
  • When calling various car towing companies, be sure to ask about their drivers and their equipment.
View Article Sources
  1. State by State RV and Towing Laws — Action Donation Services
  2. FAQs About Auto Insurance — North Carolina Department of Insurance
  3. How Many Car Payments Can You Miss Before Repossession? — SuperMoney
  4. Pros and Cons of Extended Car Warranties: What You Need To Know — SuperMoney
  5. How Old Do You Have To Be To Buy a Car? — SuperMoney
  6. Should I Buy a New or Used Car? — SuperMoney
  7. How to Choose the Right Car Insurance Company — SuperMoney
  8. Can I Insure a Car Not in My Name? — SuperMoney